Book Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I would like to first acknowledge that my opinions on books are not always going to be popular. Prime example; Toni Morrison. Although I love what she has done and look up to her as a writer I cannot lie and say that I like her writing. I have tried to read her books and find myself in a cloud of confusion.

This is my honest review and will contain spoilers. So let’s get into it!

About The Book

This book is written by Tayari Jones, an African-American female writer who has also written Silver Sparrow ( which I loved), Leaving Atlanta, and The Untelling. This makes her fourth book and it was published in 2018.

It is 308 pages minus the acknowledgements.


An American Marriage is about newlyweds Roy and Celestial who are the embodiment of the American Dream and the New South. Only a year into their marriage, Roy is accused a crime he did not commit. This book takes us through their lives apart throughout the years that Roy was incarcerated as well as after Roy is released from prison.

My Review

This book was one of our book club picks for May and I decided to go ahead and read it although I had already read The Perfect Find *sigh*.

As we know, Roy goes to prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. This happens only after they have been married for about a year. This is definitely enough to put a strain on any marriage and I could not imagine dealing with this myself. But it was as if they already had issues before this happened and this was mention kinda, sorta in the beginning. I got the sense that they barely knew each other because so much was shared while Roy was in prison. The truth about his biological father was freshly discussed with Celestial before he was carted off to prison. A biological father who he had never met, but just so happened to be in the same prisom and ended up being his bunk mate. Was that mildly convenient or is it just me.

For me Celestial and Andre were weak characters and I hated that because with Celestial being a black woman, I was looking for a connection with her. I connected more with the sub-characters (Big Roy, Olive, Franklin and Uncle Banks). In the end I didn’t think either of these guys should be with Celestial. I strongly felt like she needed to be alone because she was selfish to an extent. She almost treated Roy as if it was his fault he was in prison. She writes him to tell him that she can’t be his wife two years before he gets out of prison and never actually divorces him. I feel like they counted on Roy to remain in prison for the whole of his 12 year sentence. That was wrong!

Roy was not prefect, but I felt like they treated him like he was actually a criminal. I was very pleased when in the end he decided to let her go. Roy knew that she didn’t really want to be with him and I honestly felt that after a while Celestial only wrote him while he was in prison out of pity.

The first part of the book is Roy and Celestial writing back and forth which initially, I hated. This definitely brought the book together though, so I will say that the book was well written. It’s just that the content of the story needed so much more. I have to say that after months of anticipation, I was disappointed after reading this book. I feel as if this book fell flat on so many levels; as if the writer wanted to touch on issues but also wanted this book to stay safe.

I gave this book 31/2 stars and I added the 1/2 star because I did tear up slightly at the end. I was not on any particular team, but I was happy that Roy had somewhat of a happy ending.

Have you read this book? What did you think about An American Marriage?

Happy Reading

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